In the demo, they then dragged the words “CES dinner” from a list of conversation threads to the Yahoo Maps icon within the in-box. All of the suggestions in the e-mails were automatically placed on the map, labeled with numbers (see image below). The number with the largest font indicated the restaurant that would most likely be acceptable to everyone involved in the discussion, according to preferences they’d already submitted to Yahoo, such as restaurant reviews.
Yahoo executives recently highlighted new features that they plan to add to Yahoo Mail. Here, a collection of e-mails, automatically categorized as “CES dinner,” was dragged to the map icon in Mail. The map incorporates the restaurant suggestions from the e-mails and marks the locations on a map with numbers. The larger the number’s font, the more likely the restaurant will appeal to everyone involved in the e-mail discussion.
Next, the large “1” from the map was dragged to an Evite icon to the left of the in-box. Evite, Yang explained, is an example of a third party that can develop applications that work within Mail, in much the same way that companies outside of Facebook and LinkedIn build applications to work with those services. Automatically, an Evite dinner invitation was generated for all of the participants in the conversation.
It makes sense to bring existing services, such as Evite, into the in-box, says Adam Smith, cofounder and CEO of Xobni. He adds that ranking e-mails based on the user’s relationship to the sender is also crucial to advancing the state of e-mail. “It’s so hard for a user to manually walk through the past 500 messages to see who they correspond with most prolifically,” says Smith.
Smith says that he thinks Yahoo’s research is off to a good start, and the company has “the potential to run circles around its competitors.” But he cautions that there’s still a lot of work ahead before the new, fully featured version of the demonstrated Yahoo Mail finds its way to the masses. “I’d tell people not to hold their breath,” he says.
Yahoo, for its part, says that some unspecified features could be rolled out within the coming months but that Mail users shouldn’t expect a drastic overhaul of the system anytime soon.